Burli Overview Blog


Burli has always had a very special place in its heart for journalism educators. We maintain very good relationships with journalism and technical colleges across North America, because we believe in helping grow the next generation of journalists.

Take, for instance, long time professional broadcaster, Burli user, and educator Abe Hefter, of the University of Hartford, Connecticut. His new role is to help young people learn to become passionate about providing the news in a radio
newsroom environment that allows them to do the job.

We sat down with Hefter and talked about his experience with Burli, and what he hopes to bring to the table for the next generation of newsrooms.

Broadcasting Across Canada

Abe Hefter is an Applied Assistant Professor with the School of Communications at the University of Hartford. He’s been aboard there since early 2017, following a 30 year career in news radio across Canada and a 15 year career in higher education.

Coming from Montreal, and working in Vancouver and many points in between, Hefter’s covered some ground. He’s served in some of the country’s biggest news rooms, including CKNW and NEWS 1130 in Vancouver, the Canadian Press in Toronto, and TSN 690 and CJAD in Montreal. He’s been a show host, anchor, reporter, and sportscaster, and has had a lot of fun doing it.

His prior teaching experience goes back to 2003 with Concordia University’s Continuing Education department. He joined Concordia’s Journalism department in 2013, and that prior experience helped him design the new course when he went to Hartford, one he simply calls “The Newsroom”.

The Newsroom

His goal is to provide an environment for the students to work as close to a real radio shift as possible. They rotate roles from day to day in a non-broadcasting setup, each acting as an editor, newscaster, sportscaster, entertainment reporter, business reporter, and general news reporter. He wants the students (as he puts it) to “come to work”. And his experience working with Burli, which he calls “the industry standard”, is now shared with his students.

“There’s no better feeling than to be able to share everything that I’m able to share as a result of what I’ve done for many years with the students at University of Hartford”, says Hefter. ”A big part of what I’ve done in radio broadcasting, including reporting back to CJAD Montreal from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, was done using Burli”.

He’s particularly happy with the changes that have come about to turn journalism away from the analog world and into the digital. In his sportscasting days, Hefter spent some time covering four different Olympic games, and he recalls with a laugh unscrewing the mouthpiece on the hotel phones to hook in his Sony tape deck using alligator clips and have his newsroom record his audio, right over the phone lines, from another country. But the switch to digital audio is just the beginning, he says.

Teaching the New Way

He draws upon his broadcasting days to teach the students at the University of Hartford how to build their newscast – working with the audio editor, creating new text to accompany the story, and pulling info from various wires. His appreciation for the current state of industry tools is evident.

“It’s seamless”, says Hefter of Burli Newsroom. “It provides me with everything I need… all the tools I need to get the job done, and all the tools my students need to get the job done”. And he is busily passing his skills to the next generation of radio news professionals, no matter which end of the industry they hope to work in.

“Leaving the class, when all is said and done, with a really good understanding of how a professional newsroom radio environment works… Burli is a part of that. Burli is a big part of that!”

We’d like to thank Abe Hefter and the University of Hartford for their time and participation in this story.

A Career In Radio? Burli Overview Blog

2018 Burli Software Award at BCIT

Burli is pleased to sponsor BCIT‘s 2018 Burli Software Inc Award, given to Gurneet Samra. The Award is a recognition for novice journalists in training in BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism Program, designed to help newcomers to our industry get established as they enter their chosen new field.

Gurneet has been one of the strongest students in her class throughout her entire time at BCIT. The Program Head, Connie Monk, had nothing but praise for her. “She was just delightful to have in class – good attitude and very professional. She was always very enthusiastic in radio, with strong skills using Burli”.

She was hired at Spice Radio before the end of her last term, and so was able to go on co-op to both have a job and finish earning her diploma at the same time. The word from Spice Radio is that Gurneet is hard working and keen with lots of initiative.

Congratulations Gurneet on a well deserved award, and good luck in the future!

Burli Overview Blog


Every once in a while, we get asked a pretty interesting question – what does Burli Newsroom do that Burli NE doesn’t?  After all, NE is the next generation, enhanced product, it makes sense that it can do everything that Newsroom can do, right?

Well, for the most part, you’d be right to assume that.  NE is very powerful, and does a lot of things that Newsroom isn’t capable of.  But in the quest to make it so, there are a couple of things here and there that we haven’t (yet!) duplicated in NE.  For instance, we already discussed podcasting, and that’s still Newsroom-only.  On top of that, there’s another gem that’s still only in Newsroom: use of Dropbox.

Dropbox is an online file sharing system, letting you upload and download files at your convenience – it’s one of the earliest and most popular cloud storage services going.  And you can use it as a means of getting files into Burli!

Dropbox as a “Newswire”

Dropbox can be used to remotely send Stories into Burli by devices that don’t have any direct means of connecting to the Burli system. By saving your file to a specified folder in Dropbox (from literally anywhere with Dropbox access) it will appear in Burli as a Story.

For your convenience, we have separated Dropbox into two feeds – Dropbox Audio and Dropbox Text. Each appears like a separate Newswire in Burli’s Filter Tree. (Note that each of the Dropbox feeds is set to filter on file type, so Text files written to the Audio folder will not appear, and vice versa. Once they are in Burli, however, they can be combined, moved, and manipulated just like any other Story.)

The Dropbox Audio and Text folders in Burli Newsroom

Submission via Dropbox

Submitting a Story to Burli via Dropbox is very simple – just save a file of the appropriate type to the Dropbox folder specified by your System Administrator, exactly like any other file you save to Dropbox. All you need is the remote connection and the login credentials for the target Dropbox folder.

Whether working from a laptop or a mobile phone, start by writing up your Story in .txt format.

Writing up a Text Story

Saving the new Story to Dropbox

Audio files are even more flexible.  As Burli can handle virtually any commercially available audio filetype, just make a recording in the format of your choice and save it to the Dropbox Audio folder.  We see below a user with proper credentials for the Burli Dropbox folder from Voice Record Pro (as just one example) on an iPhone. No matter how you do it, once a file has been saved to Dropbox, it will show up in Burli as a Story in the Filter Tree.  Here we see our earlier Text Story in the Dropbox Text filter, ready to go anywhere in Burli!

Saving a file to Dropbox from an iPhone

A Text Story in Burli via Dropbox

A Text Story imported from Dropbox will use its first line as its slug within Burli – exactly like a Story created natively in Burli.  An Audio Story will use its filename (minus the extension).  So “weather.wav” will become a Story called “weather” in Burli.

Dropbox as a Destination

You can work in the other direction, too.  Take a Story in Burli and right click it, and select Save As. You can save the file (text or audio) back to the Dropbox folder on your PC.  Easy!

Want to do more with your news?  Want to experience great customer service?  Come visit us at for more info, or email to get in touch.

Burli Overview Blog


In the past, we’ve talked about one of our largest customers and how they apply Burli coast-to-coast in order to serve the largest media markets in Canada. Today we’re pleased to speak with Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, Dave Barry in Prince George, BC, and Doug Collins in Kamloops, BC.  Both are News Directors in their respective markets, and each has a responsibility to a local TV station and two local radio stations.  Both of them have a great need to keep their newsrooms running as smoothly as possible, and have been long time customers of Burli to help meet that need.

Burli Goes Way Back

In speaking to both Barry and Collins, they each reflected on just how long they’ve been working with Burli Newsroom, having been among the earliest adopters of Burli Software’s technology.

Barry remarked that he started in the news business putting together stories on a manual typewriter and yellow carbon paper (although he eventually graduated up to an electronic typewriter).  When Burli was introduced in the late 90’s to CKPG, it ushered these (and several noisy cart machines) out the door.

Collins said that he had also been using Burli since “ground zero”, having also been an early adopter in the 90’s at CFJC.  And whenever his management floated the idea of trying another system out, he pushed back hard to keep Burli.

The Day to Day

“I do the morning news run, so I use it every day,” Collins said.  “And of course there’s been lots of improvements since then to make it ever more valuable.”  He uses Burli as the basis of the newsroom for the TV scripts each night, and for virtually everything in the radio news.  “The editor is very powerful.”

Plus, Burli helps him when he’s on the spot, saying the ticker display that’s always on the bottom of the screen is handy for adding breaking stories into a cast at the last moment.  Collins says you easily see Burli was “developed by news people, for news people”.

Similarly, Barry also gets his hands on the software on a daily basis.  Drawing from traditional newswires as well as RSS feeds and their own interviews, his team is using Burli to create hourly TV and radio scripts.  “It’s the heart of our newscasts for television and for radio,” he says.  “Everything we do on air is a result or is a product of the Burli system”.

Barry mentioned that they switch between pre-recording and reading news live to air each day, but that Burli is so easy to work with that both processes are equally useful.  “You always find the path of least resistance, and Burli provides that!”

And as many of their incoming staff are coming from BCIT and other Canadian schools teaching Burli as part of the curriculum, getting new people up to speed is easy.  That makes getting on with the day much simpler for Barry.

Looking Forward with Burli

Both newsrooms have gotten more heavily involved with taking their radio and TV news content and moving it to the web – content that got its start in Burli.  Collins in particular was interested in getting more involved in using Burli for social media – something their operation in Kamloops is already doing, but wants to grow using Burli’s technology.

But whatever happens, both Barry and Collins expressed happiness with Burli’s people, and the ease of doing business we offer.  “Any time we’ve needed the support it’s been there” said Collins.  “We’ve had really good response any time we’ve had an issue.”

To learn more, come visit us for more info, or email to get in touch.

Burli Overview Blog Interviews


Working at Burli Software affords us a chance to work with some of the largest media companies in the world, and quite often requires that we keep up with the biggest markets, complete with all the exciting and complex demands that go along with that.  But what happens when you become the trusted newsroom system of a broadcasting company that services some of the smaller parts of the market?  What are the challenges there?

We sat down with Corney Unger, one of the lead technical coordinators at Golden West Broadcasting, for a chance to hear about Burli’s early days at their stations, and how they apply it today.  Unger is one of the lead contacts bridging the traditional technologies of broadcast and the data-centric world of today, and had a lot to say about their history with Burli.

Close to the Community

The first thing one needs to understand about Golden West is how closely knit it is to the community and geography it serves and lives in.  Headquartered an hour south of Winnipeg in Altona, Manitoba, Canada, Golden West is a specialist in small-town broadcasting.  It turns out being headquartered in a town of 4,100 residents really develops your sense of community.

They own 44 radio stations across central Canada in a chain stretching from Alberta to Western Ontario, mostly in smaller towns.  As such, their focus is on local, well, everything.  News, weather, sports… all of it is focused at least in part on the local happenings in rural Canada, requiring a people-focused approach that you don’t always find in larger markets these days.

Golden West’s presence across Central Canada

Which is part of why Golden West has always had a close relationship with Burli.  Going back as far as 1999 and dealing with the company’s founders, Unger describes the relationship with Burli Software as “Real people helping real people”.  He became part of Golden West that year, having graduated in broadcasting technology out of Calgary a few years earlier, and was eager to be part of an industry that was about to change right under his feet.

An Evolution in Technology

Unger remembers starting out with what would be the first Windows based computers he’d seen in a professional environment – Windows 95 was a relatively new thing, and it entered that market at roughly the same time he did.  He watched the rise of the internet as experienced in small town Canada, first using dialup modems (with the speakers de-soldered and removed so they wouldn’t screech on-air, he recalls with a laugh) and launching Burli.

Corney Unger, IT Coordinator with Golden West

Replacing Telex newswires and fax machines with an internet-enabled newsroom product was a welcome change.  Suddenly, it became easier to do almost everything – all stories were brought into a single place easily and quickly.

Flash forward to 2017, and Golden West’s approach to community broadcasting has grown leaps and bounds.  Not only are they broadcasting across dozens of AM and FM stations in the prairies, they’re also providing online content to their listeners so that those communities can stay up to date on all the media, news, and information they need.  “That’s the reality of our newsrooms”, says Unger.  “They aren’t just radio newsrooms anymore, they are basically newsrooms for [all of] our media outlets!”

Reaching Across the Center

Golden West finds their greatest value in Burli to be the ability to share data and stories across all those communities.  It’s not likely that the bigger national newswires will carry stories about your local peewee hockey team, so it’s up to them to create their own news and share it with their other member stations.  Blended in with the national feeds, the local content gives people in Central Canada lots of great reasons to stay in touch with that radio – even in an age of podcasting and RSS feeds.

So it’s no surprise that Unger was enthusiastic about Burli Newsroom’s Virtual Newsroom features.  Stories can be immediately pushed, pulled, and shared into and out of connected newsrooms no matter how far apart they are.  When you’re creating a significant chunk of your content locally, it’s truly important to share that content quickly and easily.  Burli lets you treat locally created content much the same as the national news content, and is just as easy to work with.  They’ve even started auto-dispatching stories recently, sending data from a central creation point across the region with almost no effort.

Working Together

To say Unger is pleased with Burli as a company and a support organization is an understatement.  “Burli has always been in that top 1-2-3 of recommended support, and [they know] how to do it right”, he says, “And they haven’t wavered since 1999… If we can get support like Burli gives us then I’m a happy guy”.

He describes his support interaction with Burli as straightforward and infrequent – exactly how he wants it.  “You can keep working on the new stuff, and we can keep working on our stuff!” he says with a laugh.  He’s much happier knowing that Burli can be set up and sit relatively quietly without a lot of maintenance.  He’s only in touch when something is changed as part of an upgrade or workflow shift, and even then he’s happy with the service he gets.

Unger was kind enough to grab a few comments from his newsroom staff, and although there were lots of great ones, this one from a former big city resident leapt out.  “I curse a lot less at Burli during my shifts than any other technology in the building… which, for this transplanted New Yorker, is really saying something.”

We’ll certainly take that as positive feedback.

Burli Overview Blog


To say podcast use in North America is on the rise would be something of an understatement.  In 2016, America’s podcast listening audience had grown an estimated 23% since 2015, and 75% since 2013 (Edison Research).  Since their rise in 2007, smartphones have turned into the perfect portal for carrying on-demand audio around with us at all times, and our culture is certainly interested in the smartphone!

Podcasting, at its heart, is a produce-and-consume model of distributing audio.  Content generators publish audio (and sometimes video) to the web, and subscribers use podcast receiving software (iTunes, Overcast, and similar) to download and play the content.  The actual downloading process on the part of the listener is usually automated, and playback is at their convenience.

To keep up in a challenging environment, many traditional radio stations have taken to podcasting as a way of staying in touch with their audiences.  Why not?  Radio has been in the business of creating high quality, captivating audio for decades, why not take advantage of that existing and constantly refreshed source of media?  There’s surely a place for professional audio engineers to capture some podcast listeners among a field of competition that has largely been developed by amateur enthusiasts.

Burli helps its customers get onto the podcast train by helping you easily convert your audio into podcasts.  From planning your show, to recording and editing, and all the way through posting it online, Burli Newsroom has it all.  Let’s take a look.

Get It Together

To be perfectly honest, there’s nothing special or different in how you prepare your audio for use in podcasting.  In fact, what we’re seeing with our customers is a tendency to take the content that was already destined to go on-air live and simply reuse it for their podcast.  When we recently spoke with Bell Media, they told us that they do exactly that – especially in their sports talk format.

With the exception of some editing around specific length and/or content, getting your audio together for use in a podcast should be relatively simple.  In fact, you can even use the automatically-generated content coming from your Burli audio logger!

Put It Online

Once the podcasting features have been enabled in Newsroom by your System Administrator, there’s not a lot of work to do to get it online for public consumption.  To start, right-click your finished audio project, and select Podcast this audio…

You’ll be taken to the Podcast Uploader screen.  All you need to do is populate some fields to describe which show you’re podcasting, and click Upload now.  Your file is uploaded, and you’re done!

Just for information, here is how the fields translate from Burli Newsroom into Apple iTunes:

Again, this all assumes your System Administrator has set up your credentials to establish a podcast channel with a provider, and given those credentials to Burli.  Once this step is complete, Burli can access the channel (or channels, if you’re creating more than one show.  The channels are available from the pull-down menu shown above).

Ingesting Podcasts

Of course, podcasts themselves are just another alternate form of audio input as far as Burli is concerned.  Newsroom allows for ingest of podcasts just as easily as any newswire.

If you have a podcast you’d like to add to your In-Queue, please speak to your System Administrator.  Then you can use that incoming audio any way you’d like.

New Fields in Audio

As the industry grows and changes, one thing is certain – we all need to change with it!  Making the leap to podcasting is just one way in which radio is quickly adapting to become a stronger and more competitive medium, and it’s also one more way Burli Software is helping our customers.

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly.

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ARTICLES Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: What Is ‘Great’ Content?


This week we’re not dealing with a question from just one person but a question that seems to plague our industry; what is great content?  I receive lots of audio from people asking if I think their demo is good and the content great.  I receive emails from people asking for advice on how to improve their content; how do I make it great?  I get lots of questions from air talent asking how they can become great.  If content is king, then creating great content seems like something we should all be aspiring toward. So…  just what is great content?

I think its fair to say that many shows and air talent in general don’t know what great content should sound like. They have heard people talk about it but have never experienced it for themselves. No one has ever taken the time to define it for them let alone explain what they need to do to achieve it. That’s not a reflection on the shows but a reality of not clearly defining what great content is.

Too often we judge ‘great’ purely by the results we’re achieving. In radio we declare a show as great because of the ratings it garners. If the ratings are high the show must be great, right? That isn’t always the case. There are many shows that are marginally better than their competitors and so dominate the ratings. They aren’t creating great content; if your competitors are delivering poor content you can win by having slightly better than poor content. That doesn’t sound like a legacy anyone would want. Winning ratings alone doesn’t make you truly great. Achieving greatness means creating content that lives on past the moment of consumption; consistently deliver content that does this and you will win ratings for the right reasons and for a long time.

Let’s take a moment to try and define what great content is. Great content is something that stops you in your tracks. It piques your interest and draws you in. It moves you from passively listening to actively listening; pulling what is happening on the radio from the background right to the forefront of your thoughts. It has your full attention. It could be happy, sad, funny, infuriating or intriguing as long as it provokes a feeling inside you. You can’t walk away from it — you can’t turn the dial to off — you simply can’t stop listening. You want to know what will happen next. The emotion it evokes within you lasts longer than the initial consumption. If it is really great you will find a way to share it with others.

Before we can talk about the 5 essential elements that are apparent in great content there are a couple of fundamentals that need to be present in order for your great content to be heard. Firstly, you need to know who the content is intended for. You need to clearly identify who your target audience is – how they live their lives, what their hopes and fears are, how they view the world. Then apply that understanding to ensure the content you are selecting has appeal to that audience. Great content always starts with relevance. If your content selection is not suitable for the audience you are intending it for, then it has already failed.

Secondly, content is — and will always be — subjective; what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. You need to accept that great content doesn’t have to be seen as great by everyone. The finale of Seinfeld — regarded by many as TV’s greatest sitcom – was watched by 76 million people in a country where 321 million people live. Some of the 245 million people who didn’t watch the show won’t have liked the show. In fact there will be some who thought the show was awful. That’s ok. You can achieve greatness without everyone liking what you do. Great content requires bravery from its creators to showcase their individual passions, beliefs, values and views to the world in spite of who might not like it. To be loved you must be authentic. Not everyone you know likes you. That’s a fact. But they know what you’re about and what you stand for. Trying to create content that pleases everyone will result in a cacophony of blandness. If you want your content to be great you need to be genuine.

Those are the fundamentals you need in order for your content to be heard. Next comes the 5 essential elements that all great content shares. These are the commonalities identified in the execution of all great content. When these 5 elements are present, and the fundamentals we discussed are evident, the content you’re creating has the power to stop you in your tracks.

  1. Context. The content is in keeping with the expectation the audience has of your show (and the characters on the show). Think for a moment about Sex & the City. The show was about ‘four best friends navigating sex and relationships in New York” and every episode — in fact every scene — lived up to that expectation and worked to enhance that position. You never once tuned in and witnessed the show doing anything else. Great content fits within the context — or storyline — of your show. It supports the central theme and what the audience should/has come to expect from you.
  2. Unpredictability. Something happens that the audience didn’t expect. As you listen you are silently wondering “Where is this heading?” “What will happen next?” “How will they get out of this?” The destination is unknown to the audience. This creates a sense of drama that propels the audience to keep listening. Listener’s want to be surprised. Predictability is boring.
  3. Storytelling. The content is built around an interesting and intriguing story. There is a clear protagonist and antagonist in the content. The protagonist is faced with a challenge. During the course of the story they must overcome their obstacles before arriving at a resolution. Storytelling is what bonds us together as humans. There’s nothing more powerful.
  4. Vulnerability. Having the courage to embrace your imperfections. Letting go of who you think you should be and just being yourself. Being transparent and open with the audience; sharing yourself in a way that deepens the connection with your audience. Saying what you really think without self-editing and second guessing yourself.
  5. Different. The content stands out for being extraordinary. Ordinary isn’t compelling but the extra layers you add to what is ordinary can be. This is about how you treat content to make it more impactful. It’s about asking what else we can do with this content to make it bigger. The bigger the impact the more memorable your content will be.

Bad content is obvious to spot; it has no clear target audience, lacks relevance, and is devoid of any authenticity. Average content has a specific audience in mind and relevance but still lacks authenticity. Good content builds upon average content by demonstrating authenticity and often one or two of the 5 essential elements. Great content happens when the content is targeted, has relevance, the hosts are authentic and all 5 of the elements — context, unpredictability, storytelling, vulnerability and difference — are demonstrated in the show.

See how well your show is performing; a useful exercise is to randomly select some of the content pieces from your show and evaluate them against the descriptors above — the 5 essential elements. Challenge yourself to be better at showcasing them in your show. The more you do, the greater your content will become!

Think of the 5 elements as pistons in an engine, you want all of them working in unison to power your content.

If you have a question you’d like to ask then email  If you would like to contact Paul for any reason then you can also email  And don’t forget to follow Paul on Twitter @mrpkaye


John Gfroerer: Nights Of Radio Dreams The Magic Of Radio

There are gifts that transcend the moment of their giving. For me, the radio was one of those gifts.

It probably came at Christmas when I was 11, maybe 12, a nudge from my parents to begin the transition from toys to real things. This was a real thing. A radio with a clock. I put it next to my bed and could tune in whatever station I wanted – an adult thing that I controlled.

It was white plastic with a radial clock face and a radial tuner, with a speaker between, and stood about 5 inches high and 10 inches long. It was AM only because this was the early ’60s, and AM was all you needed. The new radio fit perfectly into the headboard space of my bed. There was a special timer on the clock so that I could go to sleep, and it would shut the radio off automatically. In 1962, this was cutting-edge technology.

The cool station in western New York was WKBW; 1520 on the dial, it came right out of downtown Buffalo. The Beach Boys, Elvis, Fabian, Bobby Rydell and many more filled its airwaves all day long. Every night I got into bed, turned off the light and WKBW carried me to sleep.

Over time, something unexpected began to happen. It might have started on nights I couldn’t fall asleep, or maybe there was a song I didn’t like, but I began to search the dial.

In the dark, I learned that distant stations also found their way to my radio. It was quite an amazing thing. The first to be discovered was WABC out of New York City, 400 miles away. Cousin Brucie was right there, talking to me from downtown Manhattan. His voice had that little touch of reverb so you knew absolutely that he was coming from the canyons of the big city. I still know the jingle, “Seventy Seven, Double U A B C!”

Listening to a New York City radio station was almost as cool as being in New York. But that wasn’t the only station I found. There was KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pa. WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. WBZ in Boston.

Music became less important than the idea of going to some distant city and hearing what they were hearing. In winter, I followed school closings in Pittsburgh. In summer, I would imagine myself in Central Park as Cousin Brucie ran down which of my favorite recording artists were doing gigs in the city that weekend.

Sometimes I would just troll, slowly going around the dial and carefully listening through the static for any form of life. I was always looking to see what was the farthest station I could tune in. I think I picked up Oklahoma once. Voices would fade in and out like little bursts of wind. In the safety of my bedroom I would connect with distant places, learn their weather, their plans for the next day. Unfamiliar street names and suburbs and radio personalities filled my imagination. Like a good book or movie, I would just immerse myself in their environment. And everyone knows, the Beatles sound better when heard from a station coming out of New York City or Boston than the radio station that was right nearby.

Part of the allure was that it only happened at night. Once the sun came up the distant stations would disappear like stars to the light. By day I lived in western New York. But when darkness fell I was traveling the Northeast, sampling other cultures, other dialects, comparing the humdrum of my life with the humdrum of theirs.

There are scientific explanations why this happens – clouds, atmosphere, clear channel frequencies – but I never took a lot of time to explore them. I was content just finding the stations. Some things are more alive if you let them exist in their mystery.

Eventually I began to settle in with WBZ. Back then, WBZ was a music station, and in late-night hours it would play the cutting edge of rock, underground and folk. I would go to sleep with Dick Summer playing Tom Rush and wake up to Carl DeSuze letting me know about traffic on Storrow Drive. I didn’t know what Storrow Drive was, but it sounded a lot more interesting than the empty streets passed on the way to Tonawanda High School.

Now I look back and think about what has changed for me and why. What are the threads that took shape from late-night radio travels? How did it happen that now I know what Storrow Drive is and tune in to WBZ for traffic alerts when I’m going to be driving on it?

Does it matter? Sometimes life is more alive if you don’t know all the answers.

What I do know is this. When I set down the book tonight and turn off the light next to the bed, I will push the sleep button on my digital clock radio. In the darkness, music will carry us to sleep.

(John Gfroerer of Concord owns a video production company based at the Capitol Center for the Arts.)


Why Voice Control Could Be The Next Big Technology Trend In Radio

By Michael Hill The Drum 


My friend Matt Deegan, who runs several radio-related businesses, describes radio as a virus. It’s a born survivor, he says – attaching itself to new platforms and devices, just as a virus clings to cells. That could explain why 90% of UK adults listen to the radio every week, a figure unchanged in decades, despite the explosion in entertainment options.

My friend Matt Deegan, who runs several radio-related businesses, describes radio as a virus. It’s a born survivor, he says – attaching itself to new platforms and devices, just as a virus clings to cells. That could explain why 90% of UK adults listen to the radio every week, a figure unchanged in decades, despite the explosion in entertainment options.

This week I’ve been in Manchester speaking at a Radiocentre event called Tuning In: See Radio Differently. My talk is about some of the R&D and innovation that’s happening around radio, and how Radioplayer’s partnering with technology companies to achieve that. But no matter how radio is consumed, at its core is that indestructible content-model. It’s the ‘entertain me’ button.

We might need to find another way of describing it though, for devices like the Amazon Echo. This home speaker doesn’t rely on buttons, but on words. Launched in the UK a couple of months ago, I’m going to predict that this speech-controlled cylinder will be the best-selling technology gift this Christmas. It’s powered by a voice assistant called ‘Alexa’.

When Amazon was planning its top-secret UK launch, it contacted us with an interesting proposal. It wanted us to build a Radioplayer ‘skill’ (that’s what it calls ‘apps’ on the Echo), optimised for the UK radio market. We’re keen to learn more about voice-control (partly because it will be crucial in car dashboards in the future), so we built a simple ‘skill’ which enables listeners to play a station of their choice, and ask for recommended radio.

‘Alexa, ask Radioplayer to recommend a station’ is how you kick it off. She replies with the name of a station, and plays it. If you say ‘skip’, she moves on to the next. Her selection is uncannily good. It’s based on the Radioplayer ‘recommendation engine’ we’ve built, which looks at where you are in the country, what you last listened to, and what’s trending right now across UK radio. I just tried it in my Manchester hotel room, and she played me Key 103, Radio X Manchester, Revolution 96.2, All FM Manchester, Heart North West, and BBC Radio Manchester. All great stations, which a local listener might well be discovering for the first time.

Voice control is definitely one of the big emerging technology trends, and it’s a natural fit for radio – because it’s all about sound. It’s been very instructive, working with a huge and influential firm like Amazon. We’re going to take what we’ve learned about ‘VUX’ (Voice User eXperience’) and extend it to other Radioplayer products in 2017 – including our apps and our new hardware product for cars.

It’s a great time to be a virus. Particularly an entertaining one, with ears.

Michael Hill is the managing director of Radioplayer

Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: Should Everyone Be Treated The Same?


Q:  Do you believe its right to treat people on your team differently?  I am frustrated that people are treated differently here at our station.  Some people seem to get much more attention.  I thought management were supposed to treat everyone the same.  What’s wrong with the people I work for? – Anonymous.

A:  Thanks for your email.  This is going to be tricky to answer for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I don’t know the specifics of your situation and don’t quite understand the nuances of what’s going on but I would say my fundamental belief is that everyone should be treated fairly – that I believe is a reasonable ask and if that isn’t happening then there is probably something wrong..  Secondly, I don’t agree that as a manager you should treat everyone the same; fairly yes, but not the same.

I have spoken and shared my thoughts on this before.  In particular I tend to hear from people often who say they notice that their managers (GMs and PDs) spend disproportionate amounts of time with people and it frustrates them.  I tell those people they’re working for smart people.  It’s the managers who spend the same time with everyone on their teams that may not be as smart (I’ll admit their intentions are probably good though!)

As a manager it is their responsibility to prioritize who on their team will get the most of their time, energy and focus. There is only one of them and to get the best results they need to be deliberately treating their talent disproportionately. They need to identify who their star performers are and devote the majority of their time and attention to them. Managers should be spending significantly less time with the under performers and the average performers.

For some people this is an uncomfortable concept to wrap their heads around. It shouldn’t be. The people on a team aren’t all contributing the same value and if they aren’t all contributing the same value a manager shouldn’t be equally distributing their attention to them.

For the naysayers to this method of talent management I think it’s useful to consider how we treat our customers. We want all our customers to believe that they’re having their expectations met but the more a customer spends the higher their expectations of us are and the more we are keen to super serve them; they are making a greater contribution to us than other customers and therefore we are more focused on devoting our time and efforts to protecting that contribution. It doesn’t mean we think less of our other customers. We have just identified that putting a greater emphasis on protecting and growing our biggest contributing customers has the greater return for us. Often this approach makes for a healthier business.

Intuitively people tend to think it makes sense to spend most time with those who need the most help. For years we have been told to spend our time and energy on our weakest links. On average a manager spends one day a week addressing poor performance; working with employees who don’t meet the minimum standards and who impact the team’s productivity and drain the resources. While manager’s are wrapped up addressing under performance, it is the star performers that are missing out. We seem to forget that star performers are a primary source of competitive advantage for our business.

Science supports this idea; a researcher from the University of Michigan found that “Managers who spend more time with their strongest performers, rather than the weakest performers, achieved double their productivity.” It’s simple really: The people who need manager’s the most are rarely the people who give the team the most. Managers should be flipping their thinking so that they are top-driven, not bottom-driven, when it comes to talent management.

Managers should assess their team with the Performance v Potential Matrix to help them illuminate those employees to spend time with.


There’s little benefit spending time with the poor performers. They have low potential, so the return on a managers efforts will be low at best. There’s very little benefit spending time with the solid performers either. They perform well but have low potential so aren’t likely to deliver anything other than the results you already see. There are only two areas worth much consideration… the areas where employees have high potential. Managers do need to invest in those who are under achieving currently; they have the aptitude, a manager just needs to help them improve their skills or find consistency in their performance. However, a manager’s primary focus should be on their star performers as they already demonstrate exceptional performance and have the potential to contribute even more.

The advice I offer is for manager of spending more time with their star performers doesn’t mean they can ignore the weakest performers altogether. Managers do need to coach them to be able to perform at a suitable level. The advice I offer is about managers shifting their emphasis, time, energy and effort to their star performers. I encourage managers to stop focusing the majority of their time and energy on the under performers and instead play favorites and spend the majority of their time with the top performers.

That can feel for some I am sure as treating people unfairly. It’s not.  Fairness is about how we behave toward one another; it’s about consistency in our dealings and our values.  It’s about holding everyone accountable to the same standards.  It’s about being empathetic to someone’s challenges and needs.  Devoting different amounts of energy, attention and time to people on the team is smart.  Time is not unlimited and management have to be smart on how they allocate resources.  Ultimately it will benefit the business and all of those within the business.

Hope that offers a perspective that may help understand why managers may opt to allocate their time disproportionately.

If you have a question you’d like to submit then send it to me on Twitter @mrpkaye or email

Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: What Makes A Great PD?


Q: I am an APD in a medium sized market and I want to grow.  I work for a company with lots of radio stations and opportunities but I am often overlooked when we have PD openings.  I will confess that some of this is my fault; I have become a little complacent.  But, my PD is new and my GM is a sales guy and aren’t really focused on my development as a result.  I want to show our Director of Programming I am ready to be the company’s next great PD.  I would love your advice on what it takes to be a great PD.  It is my hope I can work on developing those skills ready for that next PD opening?  Thank you.

A:  I love your ambition and the honesty in your email.  It takes bravery to label yourself complacent; it now sounds like you want to do something about it!  Let’s see if I can offer some perspective that may help you.

Programming a radio station is not an easy assignment. The PD collaborates in the creation of the strategic plan and takes responsibility for its effective implementation. It’s a big undertaking. Programmers have to balance the science of radio programming with the art of content creation. They have to take the station they can hear in their head and make it come alive through sound. They must recruit and develop a team of highly creative, challenging and determined individuals and make them work as a cohesive team. They have to find ways to continuously keep the radio station top of mind in a time where consumers have never had more choices and less time. They have to stay up to date with the ever changing competitive landscape (no longer just limited to terrestrial radio) and anticipate future trends. Most importantly, they have to perform under the constant pressure of needing to deliver winning ratings to the sales department.

I spent some time considering your question and came up with a list of traits and behaviours that are seen in great programmers. Hopefully this list will help you identify areas of personal development.

Great programmers are…

  • Strategic
  • Decisive
  • Obsessive
  • Opportunistic
  • Creative
  • Positive
  • Relentless
  • Focused
  • Confident communicators
  • Nurtures (of talent and teams)

Great programmers know

  • … what makes their station different. The station’s unique offering is crystal clear to them. They know the need – or mood – their station serves.
  • … they have the same 60 minutes as their competitors to program each hour. They use that time to battle for the listener’s attention; offering a consistent listening experience.
  • … and understand their audience. They have a clear picture of who their station is talking to.
  • … where their time goes. They focus on the important tasks more than the urgent tasks.
  • … how to sustain a “no surprises” environment for the GM.
  • … how to create a positive, creative, stimulating and challenging working environment.
  • … they can’t execute the plan alone. They build great teams.
  • … successful talent development is building on people’s strengths, not weaknesses.
  • … that what they keep off the air is often more important than what they put on the air.
  • … taking risks is needed in the constant pursuit to innovate and evolve.
  • … that even the Titanic was sinkable!

Great programmers ask

  • … for — and value — the opinion and ideas of others.
  • … a lot of questions. They are innately curious about everything.
  • … what can we do today — this minute – to get the station noticed?
  • … how can I help my team learn and grow today?
  • … is there a way to make the station more compelling, topical, local, entertaining informative, relatable or memorable today?
  • … which of my talent is in the bottom 10% of the team (on and off the air), and what’s the plan for improving or replacing them?
  • … where is my next talent hire coming from?

Great programmers don’t

  • … underestimate their competition.
  • … waste branding opportunities.
  • … become — or allow their team to become — complacent.
  • … stop learning and developing themselves. They stay on top of new thinking, trends, technology.
  • … allow the morale to be anything other than positive amongst the team.
  • … over-complicate things. They know the secret to success lies in simplicity.

Most importantly, great programmers know that building a memorable radio station is a marathon with no finish line — the price of success is always more competition. It’s not a job for the faint hearted.

Good luck with the next PD opening.  I have my fingers crossed for you!

You can follow this conversation on Airchecker’s world famous radio Twitter feed @Airchecker

ARTICLES Interviews Net News

FYI Industry Profile: Chuck McCoy Canadian Broadcast Veteran

By Kerry Doole FYI Music News

When Canadian broadcasting veteran Chuck McCoy takes to the stage to be inducted into the Ontario Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame at their annual convention on Nov. 10, it won’t be the first such walk he has taken. In 2008, he was inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcasting Industry Hall of Fame, receiving the Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award.

He doesn’t take such honours for granted, telling FYI yesterday that “they are all very special. The longer you’re in the business, the more special they become I think. I am very honoured and humbled by the selection of the OAB. I spent a good half of my career in Ontario, so it does mean something to me. My on-air career was primarily in Ontario.”

Calling in from his vacation home in Phoenix, Arizona, the affable McCoy took us for a stroll down memory lane. Given that he is still very active in the broadcasting business some 52 years on, that’s a lot of ground to cover.

McCoy’s career is a success story with few equals in the Canadian radio business. From his beginnings as an on-air personality in Winnipeg in 1965, McCoy went on to excel in the roles of program director, broadcast consultant, and two lengthy stints as a senior executive at Moffat Communications and then Rogers Broadcasting.

In December 2012, McCoy stepped down from his position as a VP/GM with Rogers to become an independent media/broadcast consultant, as President of Chuck McCoy International Media services.

Born in Kingston, Ontario (“my father was stationed there during World War 11”), he was raised in Winnipeg. The radio bug bit him hard at a very early age there. “I‘ve tried to think back to the first time I thought ‘I want to be on that machine,’” he says. “I honestly think I was about five. I listened to the radio a lot and went to many live radio broadcasts.

“Here’s a story I’ve told a lot. When I was in third grade, there was a supermarket opening at the end of my street. I grabbed my lunch at home and ran up there. They were broadcatsing live from a glass trailer. I stood there and watched, not concerned about getting back to school. They asked if I wanted to come in and look around the studio, which I did. I said ‘this is what I’m going to do when I’m older than eight. I’m going to be on the radio.’

“They said ‘would you like to read a commercial?’ I did it for Smith’s Premium Franks, and then ran off to school thinking I’d got away with something. But back then there were only about four radio stations in Winnipeg, and the chance of my mother or one of her friends not hearing me on the air was slim. I got into a bit of trouble for that.”

Shortly after, when his parents asked the age-old ‘what do you want to be?’ question, McCoy had the answer. “I said ‘I want to be a DJ when I grow up,’ and they replied ‘ ‘I don’t think you can have both.’ I decided to be a DJ and not grow up for the rest of my life!”

The young McCoy took early steps to ensure this could happen. “For all my very young years I made a concerted effort to learn. At 11 and 12 I’d go down to CKY and watch live broadcasts. I started going to university but the desire to be on the radio was so strong. I got an aircheck tape together and sent it out to radio stations all over the place, but nobody answered.”

He eventually scored a job operating at CKY FM, until a ‘happy accident ‘ over at CKY AM gave him a big break. “CKY in those days was a huge AM station, like a big US station. They had a fire in their transmitter that meant someone had to come in at night while they were repairing it, and maybe be on the air for an hour. I went in and asked for a chance to do that. I did rather expand on my abilities to the station PD- ‘oh sure I can do that, and that. Put me in there.’

“I was good enough to survive and I did that all summer long. In the fall when it was fixed they offered me the all night job, so I ended up on that shift.”

McCoy then had on-air stints at CJME in Regina, CJRN in Niagara, and CHLO AM in St. Thomas, ON. “J Robert Wood was the program director at CHLO and Paul Ski was afternoon drive. It was a fabulous station, and it was beating all the stations in London. Wood had worked with me when I was 19 at CKY in Winnipeg and I admired him greatly.”

McCoy learned well in 18 months at CHLO (1966-67), and then the bright lights of Toronto lured him. “I had a chance to go to CKFH. At that time it was really making a successful run at CHUM, so I thought I’ll change my goal of working at CHUM and I’ll go there. I was there about a year, then the very smart broadcasters at CHUM realized they needed to change. They brought in some good consulting and brought in J Robert Wood. I thought ‘I’m in the wrong place now.’ I think I called a few times then they called me and I went over. Jack Armstrong was on the air then, and I think he was involved in me getting there.”

That switch came in 1968, and began what McCoy terms “a most remarkable career there.Nine years on the air at the top station in Canada, with the top management of people like J Robert Wood, Fred Sherratt and Allan Waters.”

McCoy would then change roles within radio. “At some point I decided that as good as I always thought I was on the air, maybe I wasn’t going to be morning show calibre talent. That is the big shift , the one with the big future. Being honest with myself I didn’t think that was in the cards. At that time too most of the on-air people were Americans. Roger Ashby and I were Canadians. Roger did the all night show and I did 9 to midnight.”

Programming then lured McCoy. “I liked the scientific side of radio – how do you program stations to do better than the other stations? So I got involved in the music department and with programming, and my on-air role lessened.”

Opportunity knocked when CHUM bought a Vancouver station, CFUN (previously CKVN). “The company showed great faith in me by hiring me as their first program director there,” recalls McCoy. “I went there and in the space of two years we went from the bottom of the heap to No. 1 in the market. We had some great talent and some great assistance from CHUM, who gave us whatever we needed to compete in the market. That was a great time and it taught me a lot more about competitive radio and how you become a winner not a loser.”

McCoy left CFUN in late 1977, running his own consulting business for a few year,s and then Moffat Broadcasting came calling, offering him a position as National PD for their stations. “They were all in Western Canada – Moose Jaw, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. I took the job and again had a terrific career for seven years [1979-86]. They were a great company to work for.”

During this period, McCoy became more involved in some of the Canadian industry associations. He was a member of the Board of BBM and the BBM Radio Executive Committee and was a founding director for FACTOR in 1981. He would later serve as Chairman of the Radio Starmaker Board from 2005-2010.

In 1986, McCoy returned to independent radio consulting, partnering with Pat Bohn. In 1989 he made another move, to Rogers Broadcasting, where he would occupy a few different positions for the next 24 years.

“Rogers was the biggest client for our consulting firm, with their stations CHFI and CFTR,” he recalls. “Rogers then bought a bunch of stations from Selkirk and Moffat, including two in Vancouver. I was living there at the time and had a growing family, so I thought this was a good time to get off the road and settle down in one market.”

McCoy took over as the VP/GM of Rogers’ Vancouver radio cluster, occupying that position from 1989 to 1999, and helping take CKKS-FM to top spot in the market for a number of years.

In 1999, Rogers promoted him to VP of programming for all their Toronto stations, including CHFI, CFTR, 680 News, THE FAN and CISS-FM. McCoy was involved in switching the latter’s format from country to Top 40 as KiSS 92.5.

“CHFI and 680 news were the two stations with the biggest audience and the most revenue in all of Canada,” notes McCoy. “It was a great opportunity and I got to work with great radio people like Tony Viner, Gary Miles, Sandy Sanderson, and Julie Adam, who is still there. I guess that was the highlight of my career.”

In 2010, McCoy was elevated to vice president and regional manager for all of Toronto, plus stations in Kitchener and London. He stayed in that position until late 2012, when he stepped away from Rogers and returned to media and broadcast consulting.

A key to McCoy’s success as a programmer and general manager was his ability to listen to others. He cites an interview he heard with hit songwriter Diane Warren as crucial in this. “She said radio station owners should make all their PDs women or, if not, that all the male PDs should spend a lot of time listening to the women in their lives.”

That advice paid off in 1998, he recalls. “I was with Rogers and working on a format change in Winnipeg with another company, Craig Broadcasting. The idea was to change a station to a CHR station. I knew CHR fairly well and had a good idea of how the music would be. My daughters were 17 and 15 at the time, They said ‘dad, you don’t understand. There’s a new rhythmic movement that is sweeping music now.’ They showed me a Seattle station they listened to for this. Back then, it was just beginning, with people like Will Smith and Britney Spears. I started listening to it and realized this is something. So I went to the female PD in Winnipeg and said I think we should change the station to a more rhythmic format. The look in her eyes and her exclamation of ‘right on Chuck’ was all I needed. It became the top station in the market and still is.

“Then when I went to Toronto and we bought the country station, to turn it into CHR, I said ‘look at Time magazine. Lauryn Hill is on the cover. This music is relevant and we should lean in that direction.’ Julie Adam took note and so we put KiSS on as a rhythmic CHR station.”

From his adult son, McCoy was alerted to the podcasting phenomemon back in 2006, and he has followed that closely. In fact, he reported eloquently on a recent podcasting conference for FYI.

He also always listened closely to those working under him in radio. “You have to meet with the people working for you and go home that night thinking ‘I learned something today.’ Otherwise I think you become someone who lives in the past. I have seen that in some of my colleagues. They’ll go ‘well, radio is not what it used to be.’ I say ‘thank god.’”

McCoy is expected about the changes and developments in radio and streamed audio. “Things are changing dramatically. I never would have thought that streamed audio would be such a new and exciting medium, but now streamed audio has taken over from streamed video, excluding Netflix. They are calling it the second golden age of audio.

“I am and have been in radio for 52 years but I’m really in the audio business. People ask about satellite radio, internet radio and podcasting. I say it is all audio, it is all part of the mix. Those up to speed in audio today are those who take advantage of what is out there now.”

When we ask the inevitable question about whether McCoy ever missed being on-air, he replies candidly. “I don’t regret for one minute the decision I made to move into programming and management, but I never forget the days of being on the air. Don’t let anybody fool you. If they’ve been on the air at a good station in a big market they’ll have to be honest and say that despite all the accolades and fame the real kick in radio is being on the air.”

Through his radio career, Chuck McCoy has worked at stations with a wide range of music formats, so we asked what he listens to at home. A very diverse list, he notes. “My Spotify playlist has Georgia Satellites, Louis Prima, Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam, but also FloRida. I just watched a Sinatra special and I’m thrilled I saw him in his heyday. Elvis too. I recently saw Tony Bennett and Keith Urban.”

He offers a surprising confession though. “From the age of five I only ever wanted to play music on the radio, but until I was nearly 40 and had a child who wanted to listen to music I never bought a record. I never had a record player. I’m a music fan and I go to concerts, but I was about being on the radio.”

Growing up in Winnipeg in the early to mid ‘60s meant McCoy was exposed to that city’s thriving scene. “There were so many great bands,” he recalls. “I went to school with Neil Young. He’d come down to our community club and ask if he could play for us, for free.”

“My very first day on the radio at CKY I knew I should give some music news. I started on air the week that Burton Cummings left his group The Deverons to join The Guess Who, so I could pass on that news. I later thanked him for that. When I was inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcasting Industry Hall of Fame in 2008, Randy Bachman came and sang there.”

Another well-deserved induction now awaits a genuine Hall of Famer.

Matt Cundill Blog

Matt Cundill Blog: Tales From the Conclave In Minneapolis


Thursday and Friday of last week, many fine broadcasters from across North America, gathered at the 2016 Conclave Learning Conference in Minneapolis to learn. I had my choices of conferences to go to this year and chose the Conclave because it provides incredible access to sit down face-to-face with everyone. Representitives from everyone from Cumulus, iHeartRadio, and Hubbard to Jacobs Media,, Benztown and Neilsen; talent, imaging, social media, operations managers and owners. Those who know me undertand that I love to share and teach; those who really know me know l love to learn.

Lori Lewis, the chair of Conclave 41 said in her opening note: “We all need friends, colleagues and mentors to grow. Success is not a solo process.”

While speaking to Joel Denver of – Art Vuolo started filming us and I thought – “Holy shit! That’s Art Vuolo!” Twenty-five years ago I used to order and share his video tapes of other disc jockeys and loved what I saw. It made me want to do better on the air. I got to thank him and tell him that his videos are a big reason what I am here today.

While on the subject of video; it continues to be an amazing outlet for personalities to showcase their personality. Greg Cypin was showcased in the “Video: Consumption Has Exploded” session, hosted by vocieover and creative genius Drake Donovan. Greg makes video’s to extend his brand:

Another Great Video showcased was by Chris Cruise. Here’s 9 Things Not to Say to a Radio DJ:

Other Highlights from the Conclave 41:

* Sarah Smerz told me about her brand extension with a video blog called “Toilet Talk”. Fun, simple, quirky, highlights her personality and works in any format. (She is the midday personality at WFMB 104.5FM in Springfield, Illinois)

* Great to meet Jennifer Williams, Director of Interactive Marketing at Greater Media in Detroit who mentored many social media and content managers. Jennifer understands how to make interactive work for radio stations. Unfortunately, there were many stations where staff do no have 100 percent buy-in from air talent and/or sales people on the interactive strategy. Stations where one person is doing all the social media activity is actually disfunctional and a recipe for disaster. (Call me – I can can have everyone buying in)

* When Rico Garcia of Results Radio in Northern, California asked: (and I’ll paraphrase) With most stations carrying syndicated and voice tracked programming, what were radio companies doing to grow talent? No solid answer came out but Ginny Morris from Hubbard Broadcasting did acknowledge that “we could all do better in this area.” I regret not getting a few moments with Ginny Morris at the mentor session to ask her about her company’s recent partnership with Podcast One, and also the insight on this station – which is the future – As the need for music radio dwindles.

* I enjoyed getting a few minutes with Mike McVay from Cumulus. Here is an innovative idea he told us about regarding developing talent. His company is using the dead space on their online streams to 3-5 minute talent segments. These could come from podcasts or post-show content or serve as audition space for up and coming talent. ESPN has been repurposing its content in that space for years, but dipping into podcast for this audio is exciting. (Note: American stations cannot run their commercial blocks on their streams because of rights issues; Canada does not have this issue)

* Podcasting remains a curiosity for radio. The session hosted by Perry Michael Simon of and Fred Jacob’s Tech Survey 12  both had many questions and many answers. Quick note for the organizers that I would love to see any session where data is unveiled, scheduled as an earlier session, so it can be referred to in later sessions at the conference. Perry’s All Access column about the conference is here.

* The Imaging Session with Katie Green, Justin Case from Benztown, and John Cruz is one that needs to be repeated next year. The need for imaging is more important than ever to separate your station, not only from other stations, but to solidify it as a brand. (I know that seems rather obvious, but if it is so obvious everyone would be spending more in this area Stop getting all figity… you know I am right)

* Paige Nienaber’s “Marketing with No Budget” rattled off more than 75 ideas in less than an hour.

Finally, a congratulations to Lori Lewis and the Conclave board for putting the shine back on this event. The tireless hours of work did not go unnoticed by your colleagues and as a result – many broadcasters are waking up on a Saturday morning, richer for those who shared their knowledge and mentorship.

Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

GIFFORD: 10 Things To Do In A Radio Job Hunt

RS 109This week I’ve been talking to radio folks about searching for and applying for jobs. It coincidentally or not comes as CBS Radio layoffs several hundred employees. So I’ve assembled a list of 10 things to do while searching for your next radio gig.

1. Network. Most people end up getting jobs because of who they know. And you never know who is going to be the perfect “in” to get each job. So, connect with friends, colleagues, and old bosses on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Comb through your address book and reach out to folks from three markets ago. The key is don’t ask or beg for a job, don’t bemoan your situation, simply ask for advice. When you ask for knowledge people are more emotionally vested in your success. Take people to lunch or coffee and pick their brains and ask them if there is anyone they can think of that you should know and see if they’ll introduce you.

2. Apply for jobs. You are not above the hiring process. If you don’t apply managers assume you’re not interested. Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring. When you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind no matter how successful you were at one time. Find jobs that interest you and apply for them.

3. Update your resume. If it has been awhile since you’ve applied for a job make sure your resume reflects you most recent work experience. If you’re light on experience you might consider creating a functional resume over a chronological one. That allows you to focus on your skills and abilities and takes the focus on your tenure at each position. (Bonus Pro Tip: Spell check. Many hiring managers will eliminate candidates for spelling errors. The attention to detail you put into the materials you assemble to get a job is assumed to be as great or even superior to the attention to detail you’ll actually put into performing the job.)

4. Customize materials. Having one cover letter or introduction email, one resume and one demo for all positions is a sure fire way to get placed into the circular file (garbage bin.) Do some research and address your materials to the hiring manager. Avoid generic phrases like, “I’m seeking fulltime employment at a media company” and be specific about each job you’re applying for, “I want to be the nigh host on Crazy 96.6 WGIF.” Rearrange your resume so the experiences and skills that apply most to the position you are seeking are reflected towards the top.

5. Learn something new. Take this down time from employment as an opportunity to learn a new skill. Maybe you want to explore digital editing, know more about how PPM works or become an ace at snapchat or Pinterest. Expand your skillsets while you have the time to dedicate to it. It will also ultimately make you a more attractive candidate.

6. Don’t leave social media. One guy I recently spoke to told me he was waiting to see where he got hired to be active in social media again, because he knew he’d have to change his handle. It’s your personal brand and your responsibility to cultivate it. In this new world of media, it is important that you remain active and engage on social media regardless if you’re employed.  It helps you to remain relevant to fans and evolve your personal brand. It’s also a key factor in hiring. Hiring managers look at how many followers you have, how engaged you are with them, how often you post and what the content of your posts.

7. Vanity search. Do a google search of your name to see what comes up. You want to type in some keywords too. Try it a couple different ways “Larry Gifford,” “Larry Gifford, radio,” “Larry Gifford ESPN” and so forth. See what shows up and be prepare to address anything that does. This is one of the first thing hiring managers will do if your application peaks their interest.

8. Dress up. If you get an interview, dress up a notch or two from what you’d actually wear to the job. Trust me, how you present yourself matters. It just does.

9. Ask questions. Always be curious. At the end of a phone conversation or in-person interview when the person interviewing you asks, “Do you have any questions?” Be ready to ask some questions. Curiosity is one of the most important attributes of a talent. This is a test. Don’t fail it.

10. Sell yourself. This is not the time to be humble. The key is to leverage all the great attributes, skills and traits you bring to the table by positioning them to the hiring manager through the lens of “this is how the company benefits with me in this position.” It’s actually less about you and more about how you help the company achieve its goals.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you have more tips and suggestions please feel free to share below. Good luck on your job hunt.


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Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

(AUDIO) GIFFORD: Secrets to Radio Success

RS 108 coverIn the latest Radio Stuff Podcast, I talk with long-time host John Kiincade (CBS Sports Radio, 680 The Fan in Atlanta, Big Podcast with Shaq). He’s celebrating 15 years of the Buck & Kincade Show this year and we explore how success like that is created, who contributes to it, what roles mentors and producers play in the day-in, day-out success in addition to big picture. Plus, John shares his thoughts on Radio in 2015 and has some fairly critical analysis of what he hears. (CLICK TO LISTEN)

Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

GIFFORD: It’s Not Beats1’s Fault, Blame Steve Jobs

RS 107 cover
Click image to listen to my review of Beats1.

Beats1 is on the air!

I’m underwhelmed thus far and I blame Steve Jobs. He taught me to expect the unexpected. He created products that at first blush seemingly made no sense (an iPad? I have an iPhone. Why do I want something bigger?), but were nearly instantaneous culture changing innovations. He created a brand expectation that sadly Apple can no longer live up to.

In my mind I was really hoping Beats1 was going to be revolutionary, be a paradigm shift for radio, inspire a new generation of broadcasters and push the industry back on it’s heels a bit. I imagined that they would figure out a way to integrate a song an hour from everyone’s personal iTunes collection weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of the radio station making it a truly personalized experience. I envisioned a XAPP Media type vocal recognition program which would allow you to say out loud, “buy this song” and it would instantly download to your iTunes account. I counted on Apple to create the fully integrated, connected, social savvy, second screen radio has been struggling to create. My expectations were too high.

Instead, so far, the bigger impact of Beats1 is for rising artists who get a global spin and ideally, for them, an instant international fan base. (Also, Pandora founder Tim Westergren’s dream. AUDIO)

As it impacts radio, Beats1 seems more of a blast of the past than a quantum leap into the future:

Shouting city names over records.. Radio does this.

Live reads. Radio does this.

Pre-Recorded outdated promos. Radio’s got those in droves!

DJs that talk too much. Radio’s got ‘em.

DJs in multiple locations. Yep..

Dead Air. Sure.

Celebrity DJs. Requests. Listen call-ins. Social media engagement. Radio does all that too.

What exactly is the innovation here?

It’s week one, so we’ll give them time to get settled and check back in next month or so. Meantime, if you hear something truly unique let me know (


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Larry Gifford

GIFFORD: Peering Into Periscope

periscopePeriscope continues to gain traction as real-time video interaction with a round-the-world audience is too big of an opportunity/novelty/ego-boost to resist.

I’ve tested it out a couple of times, talked to folks using it and done some research. Here are some keys for radio folks looking to use Periscope.


Power up. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have a strong wi-fi or 4G connection.

Have a purpose. You will want to know WHY you are initiating a Periscope session. There are many ways you can use it. Here are some:

  1. Impromptu Q&A sessions. Great way for listeners to chat with hosts or debrief reporters of a big story.
  2. Live news coverage / press conference. Let the audience see what you see when news is breaking.
  3. Introduce new show features / characters / hosts to your fans.
  4. Make announcements about your station or show.
  5. Get feedback/information/ideas on show topics, events, contests, etc.
  6. Go behind the scenes of the radio station.
  7. A regular mini-show; “Today’s Big Idea” “The Bonehead of the Day” or “The Daily Session.”
  8. Tell stories to engage fans. Storytelling is as much of a key to a successful Periscope as it is your radio show.

Write a title that entices. This is your tease, but it should also give the audience a snapshot of the video session they’re joining. Many have luck asking a question so the audience engages from the get go.

Example. What is the worst part of Mondays? Who is your man-crush / woman-crush? How do you make a good cup of tea?

This keeps the session focused and people can immediately play along.


periscope-screenshotDURING YOUR SESSION

Steady the phone. There is not a stabilizer built into the Periscope app, so many of the video sessions I’ve joined are blurry, vomit-inducing messes. Either steady the phone by holding it with two hands or set it up against a computer screen, some books, or a put it on a tripod.

Keep the phone vertical. Unlike most apps and cameras on your phone, Periscope doesn’t work so well when you try to flip the phone in the landscape mode. It is seemingly incapable of readjusting once the session is started. Keep your phone straight up and down.

Frame your shot. Keep the focus of your video in the top 1/3 of the screen, because the lower 2/3rds is fill by comments and hearts. (Pro Tip: Hearts are like an infinite “like” button. Viewers can tap the screen as many times as they like and each time they tap a heart appears.)

The talking part. There is no need to begin talking at the beginning of your session, unless you enjoy light banter with yourself. Wait until people start arriving to your Periscope session before diving in. And when they show up, talk to them. Answer their questions. Ask them questions.

Trolling. This is still the internet and your Periscope video is not contained to a small group of your best friends. All Periscope videos are available to anyone. If you attract a troll, just ignore them.

If you’re using Periscope for radio or radio-adjacent projects I’d like to hear about your experiences and would appreciate you passing along any tips by emailing me at


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Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

Top 10 Lessons Radio Can Take from David Letterman

Top 10 Lessons Radio Can Take from David Letterman (as heard on Episode 102 of the Radio Stuff Podcast)

10. People like lists.

9. Try new things. Crazy things. Challenge conventional wisdom.

8. Surround yourself with a team you trust.

7. Sometimes you have to leave a job to find greater success.

6. Produce. Plan. Prepare. Script. Rehearse. And then do what feels right in the moment.

5. Bring guests into your world. Own your interviews.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail.

3. Self-deprecation is an effective tool to win over an audience.

2. Surprise the audience.

1. Even a kid from small town Indiana can be a big time talk host.


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Larry Gifford

ABCs of U2 101

U2101In Vancouver, Rock 101 rebranded as “U2 101” for 16 hours as part of a promotion for the opening night of U2’s “iNNOCENT + eXPERIENCE” 2015 world tour. It was a great way to reinforce the station’s classic rock brand and own a major event that already had the city buzzing. To get the story behind the story, I chatted with Ronnie Stanton, Corus Media VP of National Brands and Programming and PD of Rock 101.

GIFFORD: What elements made up U2 101?

STANTON: 7am on the day of their first concert in Vancouver, which was also the first concert of their new world tour through to about 8:30am we did an interview with U2, in-studio, with our morning show “Willy in the Morning,” played lots of songs as well, but lots of great questions and those guys were fully engaged like they loved being there. It was really authentic, human, it was terrific. For the rest of the day we gave away pairs to the shows that night and played U2 double-shots. It was really cool. We changed every single element. The words “Rock 101” did not appear on the website, they didn’t appear on the radio for that entire period. We were fully U2 101.

Grock101IFFORD: Why U2 101?

STANTON: U2 is one of the biggest bands in the world and at Classic Rock stations all around the world we’re trying to constantly reinvent the format to keep it relevant and keep it less nostalgic. So, when one of your core artists does a major tour you want to do everything you can to own the artist and own it in a contemporary way.

GIFFORD: How’d you pull it off?

STANTON: So, about six or seven weeks ago I started talked to the head of the record label, Universal, and I think it was more than anything about asking the pretty girl for a dance. This didn’t happen on other radio stations, because I don’t think other radio stations said, “Yeah we’ll change our name, yeah we’ll do whatever, like let’s get those boys in here.” And it turned into great radio.

GIFFORD: What was the reaction?

STANTON: Terrific. People loved it. In a PPM world if this doesn’t move the needle I’m going to just go buy a food truck.

The full conversation with Ronnie Stanton and some examples of the imaging will be featured in Radio Stuff Podcast Episode 102 (released 5/21/2015). Here are clips from the interview with Willy and U2. 


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Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

Radio Stuff Episode 101: Radio’s Great Talent Exodus

Radio Stuff Episode 101 featuring former Regular Guy Larry WACHS who is now MODcasting the show “House of WACHS.” We talk about radio losing great talent (*sniff* bye Mike Eckford), his career, storytelling, podcasting, and more. I dive into the series of headlines flowing out of ESPN headquarters and speculate some. We finish with a great chat with Compass Media Network’s Michelle Salvatore about sports on radio. LISTEN:

RS 101 cover

Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

GIFFORD: Inside Radio Stuff #100

RS 100 coverI just recorded and edited the 100th episode of the Radio Stuff podcast. It features an extensive interview with Cumulus and Westwood One personality Jonathon Brandmeier. It also marks the milestone by sharing memories with original co-host Deb Slater and listening back to a few favorite moments. I realized of all 100 episodes this one is among the most challenging. Primarily due to production. This experience reinforced the importance of caring about the details and asking for help when you need it. Here’s how it all came together.

I had been talking to Brandmeier and his team about doing the podcast even before the new show was announced on WLS and Westwood One. We have mutual friends and had some business dealings in the past year so it wasn’t really ever about IF he’d do it, but WHEN the timing would be right. They wanted to wait until about a month into the new show. Last week I suggested the 100th episode and Johnny made it work.

Our call was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. PDT immediately following his syndicated show. I asked for 30 minutes, we talked for an hour. I started rolling tape and talking to the Radio Stuff listeners while waiting for the phone to ring. I don’t have a phone coupler, so I plug the phone directly into the board, place the phone on the desk. I record my part into a microphone and the phone mic sends my voice to the guest. In this case, I was talking for about 8 minutes before he called. Rolling before the interview is an NPR trick to capture everything. I blogged about it with Anna Sale a couple of months ago. My monologue and our opening exchange become a teaser clip I released 24 hours in advance of the podcast. His opening line to me after I answer the phone is the first thing you hear on the podcast.


Brandmeier uses a lot of audio during his show and our interview was no different. However, the phone distorted the audio he was sending down the line. So, I had Brandmeier send all the clips after the interview to insert in post. The clips, for the most part, are longer than what he sent down the line, so I had to find the parts he used, edit, insert them and silence the phone version. For example, I used about 20 seconds of the audio from this video in the show.

After recording, even though I thought the levels were perfect, my voice entirely dominated Brandmeier’s, so I went through the entire interview and adjusted all my parts to blend more seamlessly with Johnny and then raised the gain on the whole file.

Deb recorded her voice on her end and I recorded my voice on my end. She then sent her file to edit in a higher quality audio. I recorded her right after Brandmeier and forgot to unplug the phone from the board. So, that means I recorded her too. I tried to silence the phone quality version of Deb, but I couldn’t get it all. You’ll hear it switch back and forth especially when she’s laughing or talking over me. My mistake. Won’t do it again.

During our chat she mentioned several moments from early Radio Stuff shows that I found after our call and inserted in post production.


After receiving that tweet from John Collins about the return of the fake town crier after the second Royal baby was born, I put an all call out for audio of the town crier.

It worked! I received this email a few days later;

Dear Larry,

You asked on Saturday for a clip of the town crier announcing Kate’s baby.
Here’s how 680 News in Toronto reported it.

Downloadable WAV (but from internet feed), 12MB, 1:10.

There’s a lesson in how radio has no borders any more.

Journalists in London capture the sound, and beam it around the world.

An all-news radio station in Toronto edits the announcement into their piece, broadcasts it to their listeners in Toronto, and right around the world on the internet.

A listener travelling on a train in Britain hears the piece, thinks “that might be interesting”, hits rewind on his mobile app, records it for posterity, and makes it available.

Congratulations on Radio Stuff 100, and here’s to many many more.

All best,

After realizing the town crier was going to be a topic of discussion, I again asked twitter followers for help.

Geoff McQueen saw it and tagged DJ Dapper Dan and within an hour it was done. DJ Dapper Dan also had some thoughts on the fake town crier.

“That chap Appleton did not have the permission to cry from the Royal Family, they just said they didn’t object and that he should consult the relevant local authority which he failed to do as far as we know over here. Anyway he is not a bona fide Town Crier as you have to be appointed by a Lord of The Manor, A Local Authority or Similar level of accepted Government Body. He is not, never has been and is not likely to be. But fair play to him, he got a lot of publicity!”

I also reached out directly to Radio Today host Trevor Dann to see if he would offer a toast for the 100th episode. Trevor has been a supporter and reoccurring guest over the course of two years and I was happy he agreed to record a little something for the show.

I sometimes wonder why I go through all the hoops I do to create a show each week, but it is because I want it to be great. I don’t always hit out of the park, but when all is said and done I’m usually extremely satisfied with the product and proud to put my name on it. Johnny said it in the interview and I believe it to; you have to do the show for yourself first and not worry about who is listening.


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Larry Gifford

GIFFORD: Seven Ingredients of Great Radio Talent

The recipe for being a great talent on radio is really a witch’s brew; a pinch of this and a touch of that. Everyone I talk to seems to have a bit of the trade secret to share, but tragically there is no mysterious vault where the “great talent formula” is locked-up. From my experience at least some of it is gut instinct, DNA-related, or luck.

But, we do have the start of a recipe thanks to some heavy-hitters in the radio world who’ve been gracious to give time and insight to the Radio Stuff Podcast. So, here is the start of a winning blueprint for being a great talent.

Steve Goldstein Amplifi
Steve Goldstein

Have something to say.  “Point of view. That tops the list,” says former Saga Communications programming exec and Amplifi Media CEO Steve Goldstein. (audio) “There are a lot of good mechanics out there and they can make a DJ show work, but somebody who has a point of view and something to say that’s where personality comes in.”

Make eye contact with the listener. This is hard to manufacture if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s not actually looking into the eyes of your listener, but as Goldstein explains, “the ability to say, ‘I know who you are and I know what you’re going through.’ It’s tough.” This authentic connection to an audience is paramount to greatness.

Be hungry. The best talent are insatiable. “Everybody should be hungry. If you know what you want to do – do it. Be hungry and just get there,” says iHeartMedia VP of Talent Development Dennis Clark. (audio) He has worked with the likes of Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran and Bobby Bones and they all have this in common. “They’re hungry by just performing and doing a quality show and they just love the business of radio. I think a guy like Kane in D.C. or Fred in Chicago they really have a bunch of different places they’ve been to become better and better along the way and really grow their personalities and grow their acts. Same thing with Elvis, he went from Texas and New Orleans to Atlanta, Philadelphia and then finally New York. Ryan too, you know? If he could’ve been hired in any job in radio he would have taken it at the time when he was just starting out at Star in Atlanta.”

2015-03-17 10.31.19
Dennis Clark and Larry Gifford

Be now. We live in a world of rapidly decreasing attention spans. Frankly, I’m surprised you’ve made this far into the blog. Being “now” is a mantra you hear from Clark a lot. “The one thing that is a demanding factor from our listeners in radio is what’s going on right now. What’s happening? What’s the latest? I need a friend right now, I need companionship. Whether its music or a talk show or a personality morning show or it’s a vibe or feeling or something like that – “now” is crucial.”

Social currency. I preach this to my clients. Social currency is a detail, a nuance, an observation, an opinion, a theory or a revelation. It’s radio’s equivalent of a meme. Something you include in your show because it arms your listeners with information that is sharable when they’re at work, play or home. Dennis Clark also talked about this. “Radio gives people such small talk pieces that they can take to their family at home and “oh, I didn’t know that about Taylor Swift” or “I didn’t know that about the New York Yankees.” So, they can hear things from people they relate to and bring it to their conversations.”

David G. Hall, Media Strategist

Create a partnership. Success at a radio station demands you to be on the same page with management. Media strategist David G. Hall believes trouble is inevitable if you don’t. (audio) “More often than not what happens is the leadership of the station doesn’t really know what the target is or they don’t do research. They’re not really sure who they are trying to go for. So, then they have a morning guy who’s not clear who he is trying to talk to and he goes on the air and does something that he thinks is pretty good and then he gets in trouble for it, because it is so far out of whack of the expectations of the manager – who never shared those expectations to begin with.”

So what does a talent do?

Hall explains, “The best thing to do is to ask for the expectation. Be really clear.” Hall suggests you ask the following questions of your program director and it will make a huge difference in how you go on the air and will really focus what you do;

  • What do you expect of me?
  • What is the target audience?
  • Where are we trying to go with this radio station?
  • Who are our competitors on either side?
  • Who am I trying to take listeners from?

Storytelling. This is my addition to the list.  Stories are an effective way to transport an audience and share important information and values. Learn to write and tell stories in short form and long form; from 140 characters to an hour-long production. Stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain and thus are better remembered than simply stating a set of facts. When we experience emotional stories it also produce two chemicals in the brain; Cortisol which focuses the audience’s attention and Oxytocin with makes them more empathic. (Watch a video on it here) It’s science people! If you’re not a great storyteller, practice becoming one.


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Larry Gifford

When Copyrights Trump Commercial Creativity (Spoiler: Always)


Orginally posted on

I was listening to radio this morning and heard a spot for a local restaurant trying to be relatable by exemplifying how hard it is for working adults to find time to eat breakfast. They preached the importance of the first meal of the day. And wouldn’t you know it? They have a quick, easy, affordable breakfast sandwich you can pick-up on your way to the office to help solve your problem. Not a bad spot overall, but at one point the announcer says, “before you know it Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho it’s off to work you go!” and then fairly quietly layered underneath was the unmistakable original recording of the seven dwarfs singing the song.

That’s a problem.

  • It’s not an original work created by the advertiser.
  • It doesn’t qualify under “fair use” exceptions.
  • The song isn’t in public domain. The only songs that are public domain in the USA are songs and musical recordings published in 1922 or earlier. This song was released in 1937. (Check out the website here with examples of public domain works

So, that means either Disney licensed copyright permissions to a local breakfast joint in central coast California or the restaurant and radio station stole it. It probably wasn’t intentionally and in fact, it was a solid creative choice, but the law doesn’t factor in intent, creativity or ignorance.

What should they have done? Here’s some advice from business law firm Brooks/Pierce:

“To secure a license for a musical work, you will need to contact the publisher directly. You can obtain publisher contact information using the repertory databases maintained by ASACP (, BMI (, SESAC (, and/or the Music Publishers’ Association ( If a sound recording license is also needed (e.g., for dubbing an original recording), you will also need to contact the record company directly. Record company contact information can sometimes be obtained by the music publisher and is often also available on the copy of the recording (e.g., the CD liner notes). Publisher and record company contact information may also be located on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (”

That’s a lot of time, work and likely money for a :07 sample of a song in a :30 radio ad that you’re charging 50-bucks a spin for on your radio station.

Here’s the kicker. Even if the radio station didn’t produce the spot they can be held liable for copyright infringement. (Production Directors and Traffic Directors listen up!) Penalties can range from $150,000 to $250,000 per infringement and up to 10 years in prison. And in this case, Disney doesn’t shy away from going after little guys, because once you knowingly allow one entity to infringe a precedent is set. Typically a cease & desist will be the first action taken, but I wouldn’t press your luck.

Be careful out there.

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Larry Gifford Podcasting Radio Interview Tips | That'll Make You a Star Radio Stuff Podcast

Oscar Red Carpet Challenge

Last week, the Radio Stuff podcast dissected the SNL 40th Anniversary red carpet show for lessons on interviewing. To listen click here.

Today, while watching the Academy Awards red carpet coverage see how many of these you notice.

1. Interviewer guesses the emotions of the stars. (You must be excited…were you surprised?.. Are you nervous?)

2. Interviewer asks a yes or no question.

3. Interviewer makes a statement and hopes the guest fills the space. (That was amazing… Tell me about…)

4. Interviewer confuses star by asking multiple questions at once.

5. Interviewer asks awkward question due to lack of prep/research.



ARTICLES Larry Gifford

It’s Time For Your Station’s SNL Moment


Originally published on the Larry Gifford Media blog

Love it or hate it Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary show can serve as inspiration for your next radio event. Paying tribute to the music and personalities that built your radio station into what it is today is a great idea. Celebrating your heritage is a powerful brand builder, but too often in radio we are quick to white-out the names who no longer roam the halls. If you’re not a heritage station you use the event to begin to build your station’s mythology or you could pay tribute to business leaders in your community, scholar athletes, or community volunteers. SNL40 had its hits and misses, but the idea was right, it owned the night on social media and it helped remind people why they love the show.


Here’s what SNL did right which applies to your radio station.

  • Engage fans: Multimedia and social media cross-promotion, voting on “favorite moments,” live broadcast, launched new app.
  • Engage partners: VIP reception/red carpet before the event. Big events like this are a great way to thank partners and attract new clients. Use several levels of credentials and events before and after to add gravitas to your radio event.
  • bradley-cooper-betty-white-kiss-in-californians-snl-40-sketchEngage staff: Pitching ideas, rehearsals, celebrating their talent, post-show party. The staff must be included in the creation and execution of the event. They’re smart, talented and know the audience.
  • Entertain: Showcase the great radio talent of the past or celebrate a current talent as “hall of famer” or create your own version of the Hollywood star and walk of fame. OR – special audio / video, or on-stage feature of whomever you are honoring.
  • Entertain: Live performances whether spoken word or music based are essential. You could do anything from a host debate, an “Inside the Actor’s Studio” behind-the-scenes interview, a radio station band, or a concert of a band that has a history with your city or station. Personalities can also share the stage, tell stories, honor or interview others. Whatever you choose be sure it reflects your brand.
  • Element of Surprise: Figure out your version of French kissing Betty White on stage.
  • Make it Big: The SNL40 event was impressive for the star power alone, but a ½ network red carpet special was one additional detail that kicked it up a notch.
  • Details: Details. Details. Details. Imagine the chaos involved in herding all those comedians, musicians, politicians, and actors. Make sure your event has a Lorne Michaels.

It doesn’t matter the size of the market. I’ve seen ratings, revenue, brand reinforcing success for events  like these in markets #1 and #2 to #33, #139 and unranked. Think big, be bold, take chances and don’t listen to the critics. The P1s will love it and so will your staff.

more lessons from #SNL40 on Radio Stuff Episode 90 “Interviewing Do’s & Don’ts from NBC’s Red Carpet Show”***

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